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About the Book
Jenifer Ringer, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, was thrust into the headlines after her weight was commented on by a New York Times critic, and her response ignited a public dialogue about dance and weight.
Ballet aficionados and aspiring performers of all ages will want to join Ringer behind the scenes as she shares her journey from student to star and candidly discusses both her struggle with an eating disorder and the media storm that erupted after the Times review. An unusually upbeat account of life on the stage, Dancing Through It is also a coming-of-age story and an inspiring memoir of faith and of triumph over the body issues that torment all too many women and men.
Heart of a Philanthropist's Take
Jenifer worked hard in school and graduated early so she could further her ballet studies. She went to a highschool for professional children to accomplish her goals. At sixteen she was accepted to the New York City Ballet as an apprentice. Within a year she was promoted to a full time dancer.
There was little time for other activities besides school and dance. She soon stopped going to church, and her prayer life slowly began to dwindle. Along with her prayer life, her bodyweight shrunk. People called her too thin (ironic for a ballet dancer). She struggled between not eating to binge eating on a regular basis. For a ballerina, she was too large, and it began to affect her job. One of her employers went so far as to request she come to a separate half hour meeting to see if he was okay with her weight before giving her a job. Eventually Jenifer was fired from the ballet.
That was her first year not dancing. Back in school, Jenifer had made some friends. One of them was a boy named James. They weren't super close, but they'd danced together in the past. James was somewhat of a bad boy. Jenifer had a bit of a crush on him. During the off season, James contacted Jenifer and asked her to dance with him on a tour. She would go with a few of the other dancers. Jenifer was hesitant but chose to go. They had a great time, and Jenifer's childhood crush came back.
Because Jenifer lost 15 of the 20 pounds she needed to lose, and because she'd danced during her time off, the New York City Ballet hired her once again with the caveat she must lose the rest of the weight and keep it off. Taking that year off happened to be the best thing that happened for Jenifer. She came back with a vengeance and ended up being promoted to a full time dancer.
Jenifer opened one of the Nutcracker shows and there was a critic in the audience known to belittle the dancers. He wrote about Jenifer, "It looks like she had one too many sugar plums." How rude! Apparently I was not the only one who thought so. He received hate mail from many people. Instead of relenting, he stood by his critique stating she was a fat ballerina. What the devil means for harm, God uses for good. Jenifer was able to go live on the Today show, and eventually an episode of Oprah. Her story will inspire girls who feel all too often the in the spotlight for the wrong reason.
IN the middle of the story, James starts to notice Jenifer as a lady he was interested in. They began dating even though he knew she would not have sex with anyone but her husband. They began going to church together. They became exclusive, and soon they were engaged to be married. Jenifer and James danced as a married couple for five years.
I did not realize that ballet dancers retire young. It is because of all the battery their bodies go through to give us a spectacular show. James retired at 35 from dance and Jenifer retired at 41. They have two beautiful children- a boy and a girl. The daughter's name? Grace! God showed Jenifer much grace throughout her life.
In case you are not a ballet enthusiast, you will still enjoy this book. There are ballet terms throughout the book, however, there is also a glossary explaining all the terms. You'll love the crazy wedding dress story, and the miracle God allowed for that. You'll sympathize with Jenifer's weight loss and gain. You'll love the romance between Jenifer and James, and you'll be angry with the insensitive fat bashers. I love that Jenifer shared her weight struggles because so many people have issues with their weight. I love Jenifer's honesty throughout the book. She points out the first time she noticed that food brought her happiness, and realizes now that was the beginning of her battle with food. I like how Jenifer brings her family into the story. Her relationship with her children is of utmost importance to her. There is a cute picture of Jenifer waving joyously to her little girl who was sitting in the front row of one of her shows. I enjoyed the fifteen color photo pages that are in the middle of the book. The way the book was broken down (special topics for each chapter) made it easy to follow. A reader could pick it up at any new chapter and be able to enjoy that chapter. I felt like I was reading a friend's diary as I read Jenifer Ringer's book. This is a must read for any aspiring ballet performer, and for the parents of that performer. It will open their eyes to the issues that come with the glamour so that those issues can be addressed before they even come to pass.